Davone Bounpheng and Sounisa Sundara are both Program Managers for the Australian Embassy’s Education work in Laos. They oversee the Basic Education Quality & Access in Laos program (BEQUAL), Australia’s major investment to improve teaching and learning in Laos.
Sounisa and Davone both graduated from @FlindersUniversity in South Australia with Master degrees in Educational Management.
For Davone, the qualification has helped her to use her knowledge and skills to contribute to the support from Australia to help Lao children learn better. “Since 2015, Australia has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports to revise the National Primary Curriculum and provide training for teachers to use the new curriculum.”
According to Sounisa, the new teaching and learning materials have been provided to all primary schools across the country. The new materials are colorful and more attractive for young learners. Teachers have also been trained in the new inclusive and active learning approaches to better facilitate students reading and writing using the new learning materials.”
“There have been positive changes in teaching practices by Grade 1 – Grade 3 teachers. Grade 4 and Grade 5 curriculum will be implemented in the next two school years, and I expect to see positive changes in teaching practices of teachers of the respective grades as well”, said Davone.
Sounisa was inspired by her parents to pursue a Master degree in Educational Management “From a young age, my parents emphasized the importance of education and education as the best investment to provide for my future. I still remember the excitement when attending a Rural Development subject for the first time because I could relate the topics in this subject with rural education in Laos. I developed my interest in rural education and decided to do my thesis in rural education development. The technical knowledge from my thesis is very relevant to the BEQUAL program I am working on now, focusing on improving education quality of primary school age children, particularly those experiencing disadvantage.
Thinking about World Literacy Day, Davone says that parents play a critical role in helping children to learn especially young children. Parents can create a good environment for learning at home and can help young children to learn. For children living in a household and community that speak Lao as a second language, teachers’ role will be even more important to help children learn Lao. At primary education, Lao language acquisition will help children learn other subjects better.
“Literacy is the foundation for children to learn and develop. Being able to read and write will help them learn other knowledge and skills and grow up to be a quality citizen. I am very proud to be working for the Australia Government and supporting the Lao Government in improving literacy for Lao children.” Davone Bounpheng, Program Manager for the Australian Embassy’s Education work in Laos
Sounisa said that the quality of education in Laos still needs improvement compared to other ASEAN countries. Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics study shows that half of the Grade 5 children have a reading proficiency equivalent to that expected in the first years of primary education.
In closing, Sounisa said that we can all start from ourselves and our families to support our children, nieces and nephews’ education and literacy skills. We should help them to develop the love of reading from the young age by reading to them at home and providing them with suitable reading materials.
Thanks, Davone and Sounisa. Your passion for education is making a real difference to Primary school students and teachers across Lao PDR!